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Author Topic: Observations of a Pagan seeking understand paganism.  (Read 3308 times)

ethelwulf

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Re: Observations of a Pagan seeking understand paganism.
« Reply #15 on: September 22, 2013, 10:02:39 am »
Quote from: RandallS;122570
It's not much beyond "they consider their religion to be Pagan."  The official definition of "Pagan religion" for this forum is very general and vague (A pagan religion is a religion that is not Jewish, Christian, or Islamic and self-identifies as Pagan) because there is such a wide variety of Pagan religions than some have little more in common with some other Pagan religions beyond the fact that they are religions and they self-identify as Pagan. Adding more specifics to the definition starts leaving out religions that consider themselves Pagan.

 
I do not think you should change the definition. I am only trying to understand what paganism as a belief system is. If things have nothing in common then why even group them together? I just find it hard to believe that pagans do not have things in common. When I read the posts there are themes which recur and at least seem to be important to pagan beliefs.

Jenett

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Re: Observations of a Pagan seeking understand paganism.
« Reply #16 on: September 22, 2013, 10:38:21 am »
Quote from: ethelwulf;122577
I do not think you should change the definition. I am only trying to understand what paganism as a belief system is. If things have nothing in common then why even group them together? I just find it hard to believe that pagans do not have things in common. When I read the posts there are themes which recur and at least seem to be important to pagan beliefs.

 
There's a couple of articles on my website you might find helpful here - from http://gleewood.org/seeking/basics/ the ones on "Things Pagans often have in common" and "Things Pagans don't always share"

You'll notice that the things in common are often more about the practical issues of being a minority religion with little widespread heirarchy than about specific beliefs or practices. (And in fact, for everything on that first list, I can think of at least one path or tradition or kind of practice that is very comfortably under the Pagan umbrella, but that doesn't fit that particular thing. That's why there's a lot of "Many" and "Some" phrasing on that page, but you don't see "All" or "Every" anywhere.

There are certainly themes and concepts that are common to a number of Pagan paths, but there are also a huge number of exceptions, or times when a given thing is a part of  a Pagan path, but not in the way you'd normally see. This is entirely natural when you have a great many paths that have grown up from multiple sources, but that have some common ground as well.

The other thing - as has been mentioned before - is that most Pagan paths are joined more by shared practices than by shared beliefs. You can have two people in a very specific path (say, a specific tradition of Wicca or religious witchcraft), trained in the same group, with many of the same ritual experiences, who have fundamentally different ideas of the nature of (or the existence of) the Gods, or what it means. But they're joined in practice because they're in the same place, doing the same things, and it's useful to them.

Focusing on belief, in other words, tends not to work very well for Pagan practices. Looking at what people do (or, alternately, what individual people believe, not paths) tends to be more effective.
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Darkhawk

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Re: Observations of a Pagan seeking understand paganism.
« Reply #17 on: September 22, 2013, 11:18:26 am »
Quote from: ethelwulf;122577
I do not think you should change the definition. I am only trying to understand what paganism as a belief system is.


Paganism is not a belief system.

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If things have nothing in common then why even group them together?

 
Why do people put odd screws, rubber bands, and stamps in the junk drawer?  If these things have nothing in common then why even group them together?
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HeartShadow

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Re: Observations of a Pagan seeking understand paganism.
« Reply #18 on: September 22, 2013, 11:27:33 am »
Quote from: ethelwulf;122557

The three aspects that I see frequently associated with paganism are nature, the goddesses and gods, and magic

 
FlameKeeping doesn't have any of those.  (though which side of the religion/philosophy line it falls depends a lot on where you put that line, it is at least a RELIGIOUS philosophy).

But it's specifically and deliberately silent on the existence or nature of gods, magic is never mentioned, and nature is no more important than anything else.  It is sacred, yes, but so is my computer.

Seriously, "pagan" is the religious junk drawer.  It's the "other" category.  Trying to organize the "other" category into something coherent is an exercise that is not only doomed to failure, it just irritates everyone.  Trust me - this is NOT a new attempt!

veggiewolf

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Observations of a Pagan seeking understand paganism.
« Reply #19 on: September 22, 2013, 12:16:39 pm »
Quote from: ethelwulf;122577
I do not think you should change the definition. I am only trying to understand what paganism as a belief system is. If things have nothing in common then why even group them together? I just find it hard to believe that pagans do not have things in common. When I read the posts there are themes which recur and at least seem to be important to pagan beliefs.

They do have something in common: they're not Abrahamic and they self-identify as pagan.  That's all - no more, no less.
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veggiewolf

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Observations of a Pagan seeking understand paganism.
« Reply #20 on: September 22, 2013, 12:18:43 pm »
Quote from: ethelwulf;122557
...

The three aspects that I see frequently associated with paganism are nature, the goddesses and gods, and magic

And yet, I know people who consider themselves to be pagan and incorporate none of these things.
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ethelwulf

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Re: Observations of a Pagan seeking understand paganism.
« Reply #21 on: September 22, 2013, 09:38:44 pm »
Quote from: HeartShadow;122580
FlameKeeping doesn't have any of those.  (though which side of the religion/philosophy line it falls depends a lot on where you put that line, it is at least a RELIGIOUS philosophy).

But it's specifically and deliberately silent on the existence or nature of gods, magic is never mentioned, and nature is no more important than anything else.  It is sacred, yes, but so is my computer.

Seriously, "pagan" is the religious junk drawer.  It's the "other" category.  Trying to organize the "other" category into something coherent is an exercise that is not only doomed to failure, it just irritates everyone.  Trust me - this is NOT a new attempt!


I am sorry I do not know anything about the FlameKeeping religion. I went to the site that was linked and still do not understand what it is. I would like to know more about it and how it is connected with paganism.

ethelwulf

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Re: Observations of a Pagan seeking understand paganism.
« Reply #22 on: September 22, 2013, 09:42:02 pm »
Quote from: veggiewolf;122589
And yet, I know people who consider themselves to be pagan and incorporate none of these things.

 
I have just heard of FlameKeeping and will try to learn about it, but what other Pagan religions do not have at least one of the three aspects I have mentioned?

veggiewolf

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Observations of a Pagan seeking understand paganism.
« Reply #23 on: September 22, 2013, 09:53:10 pm »
Quote from: ethelwulf;122662
I have just heard of FlameKeeping and will try to learn about it, but what other Pagan religions do not have at least one of the three aspects I have mentioned?

I was actually thinking of FlameKeeping, since I'm a FlameKeeper as well as being Kemetic.

I can think of two others that don't include any of the aspects you mentioned: Buddhism and Taoism, in their non-folk forms.  Whether they consider themselves pagan or not is a question for members of those faiths.
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ethelwulf

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Re: Observations of a Pagan seeking understand paganism.
« Reply #24 on: September 22, 2013, 10:45:14 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;122578
There's a couple of articles on my website you might find helpful here - from http://gleewood.org/seeking/basics/ the ones on "Things Pagans often have in common" and "Things Pagans don't always share"

You'll notice that the things in common are often more about the practical issues of being a minority religion with little widespread heirarchy than about specific beliefs or practices. (And in fact, for everything on that first list, I can think of at least one path or tradition or kind of practice that is very comfortably under the Pagan umbrella, but that doesn't fit that particular thing. That's why there's a lot of "Many" and "Some" phrasing on that page, but you don't see "All" or "Every" anywhere.

There are certainly themes and concepts that are common to a number of Pagan paths, but there are also a huge number of exceptions, or times when a given thing is a part of  a Pagan path, but not in the way you'd normally see. This is entirely natural when you have a great many paths that have grown up from multiple sources, but that have some common ground as well.

The other thing - as has been mentioned before - is that most Pagan paths are joined more by shared practices than by shared beliefs. You can have two people in a very specific path (say, a specific tradition of Wicca or religious witchcraft), trained in the same group, with many of the same ritual experiences, who have fundamentally different ideas of the nature of (or the existence of) the Gods, or what it means. But they're joined in practice because they're in the same place, doing the same things, and it's useful to them.

Focusing on belief, in other words, tends not to work very well for Pagan practices. Looking at what people do (or, alternately, what individual people believe, not paths) tends to be more effective.

 
I looked at your website on things common to paganism and the only one that is more specific to paganism is the is no single book. The rest are problems that many minority religions face and as directed to pagan religions.  The rest of the website was very interesting. The solution to the problem of common factors in paganism is there are several themes that are common in pagan belief but all pagans do not believe in all of the themes. Thus a possible solution is a sort of Venn diagram approach. This way you can still say something positive about what pagans believe but and individual pagan might only believe in one or more of the themes.

ethelwulf

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Re: Observations of a Pagan seeking understand paganism.
« Reply #25 on: September 22, 2013, 11:02:22 pm »
Quote from: veggiewolf;122664
I was actually thinking of FlameKeeping, since I'm a FlameKeeper as well as being Kemetic.

I can think of two others that don't include any of the aspects you mentioned: Buddhism and Taoism, in their non-folk forms.  Whether they consider themselves pagan or not is a question for members of those faiths.

 
I am not familiar with FlameKeeping  or Kemetic at this point. I will try to learn more to see why they would not fit into this kind if presentation. I do not know why you would consider Taoism or Buddhism as pagan.

veggiewolf

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Observations of a Pagan seeking understand paganism.
« Reply #26 on: September 22, 2013, 11:06:22 pm »
Quote from: ethelwulf;122674
I am not familiar with FlameKeeping  or Kemetic at this point. I will try to learn more to see why they would not fit into this kind if presentation.

I'll make it easy for you.  Kemeticism fits, FlameKeeping doesn't.

Quote
I do not know why you would consider Taoism or Buddhism as pagan.

I don't.  If you read what I wrote, you'll note I said you'd have to ask a member of those faiths if they considered themselves pagan.
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Jenett

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Re: Observations of a Pagan seeking understand paganism.
« Reply #27 on: September 22, 2013, 11:15:44 pm »
Quote from: ethelwulf;122672
I looked at your website on things common to paganism and the only one that is more specific to paganism is the is no single book. The rest are problems that many minority religions face and as directed to pagan religions.  The rest of the website was very interesting. The solution to the problem of common factors in paganism is there are several themes that are common in pagan belief but all pagans do not believe in all of the themes. Thus a possible solution is a sort of Venn diagram approach. This way you can still say something positive about what pagans believe but and individual pagan might only believe in one or more of the themes.

 
Except that - no. There are in fact Pagan religions out there that have some kind of sacred book or sacred text. They're not terribly common, but I've come across a few.

(Also, it depends a bit on what you mean by 'sacred book'. Any Wiccan tradition with a tradition Book of Shadows has a book that contains practice and other important information. But it's not the whole of the tradition, and it only applies to that tradition, not to others.)

That's my whole point about the list: there are some things you can maybe generalise about, but there are so many exceptions that you can't assume any particular point applies to any specific Pagan path.  And there are *major* paths within Paganism that do not subscribe to each point I listed.

(The Reconstructionist religions generally are not nature-centered, in the sense that term is usually used. A number of them are ambivalent about the practice of magic, or at least some kinds of magic. Some Pagan traditions are quite large and have a bunch of internal heirarchy, even though most tend to be smaller and without much of that. And so on.)

I do think there are some practical things we have in common (as mentioned, being minority religions, mostly working out of individual homes or rented spaces, leads to a bunch of shared practical issues.) But those are also things held in common by, say, knitting groups, the Society for Creative Anachronism, at least half the trad folk music jam sessions out there, and also, incidentally, a bunch of small home church groups in Christianity.

Which is why I really think we have to start by looking at what we're talking about, and work out along that axis: the places there are commonalities on, say, "what holy days do we celebrate" are going to be vastly different for a given path than the commonalities in "who decides what's in this particular path, and how? Or can named individuals decide that in the first place?"
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ethelwulf

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Re: Observations of a Pagan seeking understand paganism.
« Reply #28 on: September 23, 2013, 01:11:02 am »
Quote from: veggiewolf;122675
I'll make it easy for you.  Kemeticism fits, FlameKeeping doesn't.


 
I don't.  If you read what I wrote, you'll note I said you'd have to ask a member of those faiths if they considered themselves pagan.

 
I am sorry if I misunderstood. I thought you said that "I can think of two others that don't include any of the aspects you mentioned: Buddhism and Taoism"  indicated that they were pagan religions which did not have aspects of nature, goddesses or gods, or magic.  Are there any other pagan religions other than FlameKeeping which do not have one of these elements?

ethelwulf

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Re: Observations of a Pagan seeking understand paganism.
« Reply #29 on: September 23, 2013, 01:22:22 am »
Quote from: Jenett;122676
Except that - no. There are in fact Pagan religions out there that have some kind of sacred book or sacred text. They're not terribly common, but I've come across a few.

(Which is why I really think we have to start by looking at what we're talking about, and work out along that axis: the places there are commonalities on, say, "what holy days do we celebrate" are going to be vastly different for a given path than the commonalities in "who decides what's in this particular path, and how? Or can named individuals decide that in the first place?"

 
I am not sure I completely understand. I do know you are very well read and have an excellent website and blog so I do respect you opinion but I still think there can be something gained by looking at what pagans have in common. The clear problem are no specific aspects that all three agree on yet there are at least three things that are very common in pagan religion. So one pagan might believe in nature and polytheism, another in magic and nature, another in polytheism and magic, another only in polytheism, another in magic, nature and polytheism. This sort of format allows us to say something about paganism without excluding anyone ( the exception so far of FlameKeeping which I am not yet familiar with). This then gives us some positive attributes to paganism which can be discussed or explained.

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